On the day of this year’s Tony Awards, two of Chicago’s previous winners, director-playwright Mary Zimmerman, whose revival of “The Arabian Nights” is tearing up the stage at Lookingglass right now, and playwright Tracy Letts, who’s preparing his “Superior Donuts” for a transfer from Steppenwolf to Broadway this fall, appeared before a packed house of book lovers at the Printers Row Lit Fest on a panel moderated by retired Tribune theater critic Richard Christiansen.
Here are a few of the more memorable moments:
Letts on why he started writing plays in addition to acting: “To write roles for other out-of-work actors like myself.”
Zimmerman on her first work: “The story of Lady Godiva—it had one line in it.”
Letts on casting “August: Osage County”: “At Steppenwolf, we have an ensemble, so we try not to hurt any feelings.”
Letts on writing the screenplay for “August: Osage County,” which he’s doing now: “It’s terrible… just terrible. It’s like a combination of a bad adaptation with ‘Erin Brockovich”… avoid the movie at all costs!”
Zimmerman on fruitlessly rewriting certain lines over and over again in her plays and then hearing them on stage: “It strikes the ears so awkwardly and I’m just like ‘oh, just get past the moment, please!”